Ansel Adams had a good eye darkroom. Today we use filters for film Variable Contrast and changing developing time for paper. Digital uses Photo Shop all work great
I think most of his prints are on graded paper. I think he used his skills to expose and develop film to create a negative that will print on a particular grade for the most part. As BW printers, we have it easy with multigrade papers. It gives us the luxury to be a little sloppy with our exposure and development with our film. All we have to do is to change grades with filters. Printers today also can also do split grade printing which he wasn't able to do with graded papers. Now digital photographers can do it in the computer. It's a different craft on the computer.
"Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."